I really wanted to write separate reviews of these but life is incredibly busy right now so this will have to suffice…
Absolute Friends ***
This is another review I’m glad I slept on. I really wish I liked it more than I did.
The beginning was great: two friends making their way across the chasm of time and space in the post-WWII Cold War Europe. Idealism mixed with low class status, the desire to create a better world but lacking in power to do so. Le Carré goes long on developing the lives of the two “friends”, putting them in precarious situations and helping them learn about themselves.
I was hoping he would bend the arc well enough to the post-9/11 critique of the War on Iraq…but he just didn’t. The ending felt rushed, the denouement came from a place of anger at the western imperial powers. And that’s fine; the Iraq War should make you angry. But it didn’t make for compelling reading. I understand the point Le Carré was trying to make but it felt like a duck given the first 300 pages of reading.
Le Carré would make many similar points in A Most Wanted Man and would do so more effectively.
Are Snakes Necessary? ****
Have folks…really truly never watched a Brian De Palma movie? What did they expect when they picked it up? No less than Martin Scorsese blurbed the book by saying: “It’s like having another Brian De Palma picture!” He’s right! That’s exactly what it is.
I’ve never had an affair but from most people who have written about it, they talk about how the moments of coital bliss are special because of the sneakiness of the engagement, with the postcoital guilt being crushing because of the world they have to return to. De Palma’s stories are basically that erotic thrill/sorrow in words. This was a fun, breezy read, basically as if De Palma had dragged out an unpublished script from 1985, handed it to Susan Lehman and said “Here ya go. Try to make a few bucks off of this.” I was happy to give him my money.
I love the Hard Case Crime label but too often, it’s just reprinting stuff from the same authors over and over again. More of this, please. I enjoyed the hell out of it.
The Jedi Doth Return (William Shakespeare’s Star Wars) ****
Another one I enjoyed in this series. I think Doescher really found a voice with this one, using the chorus a little less and trusting expository dialogue to bring the story home. It was fun.